Restored Fruit Wall in the Netherlands

Melle Smets, Dutch artist and our collaborator at the Human Power Plant, stumbled upon this beautiful fruit wall in Dorrepaal, the Netherlands. By planting fruit trees close to a specially built wall with high thermal mass and southern exposure, a microclimate is created that allows the cultivation of Mediterranean fruits in temperate climates. Previously: Fruit walls: urban farming in the 1600s.

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The Ondioline

The Ondioline is an electronic musical instrument invented by Georges Jenny in France in the early 1940s and developed through a number of different models until his death in 1975. This versatile and expressive instrument is monophonic, but can produce a remarkable variety of sounds, from simulating orchestral instruments to creating unique and voice-like tones.

In total, around 1200 Ondiolines were built between the mid 1940s and late 1960s, most of them handmade by Jenny himself. The instrument was also offered in “kit” form, where Jenny recommended purchasing the more complex assemblies – such as the keyboard – as complete units. The schematics were made available for amateur engineers to construct their own custom instruments, and they were encouraged to experiment with the amplifier, tone circuits and cabinetry.

Although a number of musicians played Ondiolines in eclectic contexts through the years, the instrument’s main proponent and arguably sole virtuoso was Jean-Jacques Perrey [1929-2016]. After meeting Jenny around 1950, Perrey became the Ondioline’s official demonstrator and traveling salesman, later using the instrument on a number of pioneering electronic pop records. His technique of self-accompanying – playing the piano with his left hand while fluidly changing sounds and soloing on Ondioline with his right hand and knee – was a feat of remarkable musical dexterity.

Since 2016 the musician Gotye has worked to revive interest in the Ondioline through the non-profit Forgotten Futures and with an ensemble called Ondioline Orchestra that performs tributes to Jean-Jacques Perrey’s music. Forgotten Futures is dedicated to the recovery of Jenny’s under-recognized work, the recreation of critical Ondioline spare parts, and the dissemination of information that will ensure the functionality and accessibility of these remarkable instruments for future generations.

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How to Build a Persian Windmill

“This paper investigated a windmill in Nehbandan which is an example of architectural heritage. Harnessing natural energy and using local materials such as stone, wood and adobe, the residents were able to create environmentally friendly structures. In this paper, one of these windmills that is still standing in Nehbandan was selected from a chain of windmills. Then, based on architectural survey, interviewing with millers and sketching, the dimensions of architectural elements and mechanical components were obtained and the windmill was modelled.”

“The results reveal that there is a close relation between architectural features and mechanical components. The orientation of this windmill toward prevailing wind, the correct placement of walls in three faces and creating a hole named Darvazeh in the third wall to direct the wind into the Parkhaneh are architectural features which provide the kinetic energy of the wind to move the mechanical components. The stepped form of the surrounding walls prevents erosion of mechanical components and as a result increases the durability of the windmill.”

Zarrabi, M., Valibeig, N. 3D modelling of an Asbad (Persian windmill): a link between vernacular architecture and mechanical system with a focus on Nehbandan windmill. Herit Sci 9, 108 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40494-021-00587-0

https://heritagesciencejournal.springeropen.com/articles/10.1186/s40494-021-00587-0

Solar Metal Smelter

Jelle Seegers set out to design a production line that drastically lowers our footprint, using nothing but the sun, wind, or muscle power as its energy source. The ‘Solar Metal Smelter’ is his pièce the résistance: this huge magnifying glass creates a powerful focal point that, on a sunny day, makes metal melt. Cast in a sand mould, the hot substance is transformed into machine parts for a foot-driven grinder in an off-grid practice.

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DIY Wooden Bike Trolley

Marie Verdeil made a tutorial for a simple wooden bike trolley. It is available in English and French on the Low Tech Lab wiki.

Method to create a simple bike trolley, using up-cycled materials. Easily fixated to every bike (adult size). Holes on the board help attach any kind of cargo. It’s made out of wood and simple hand tools, no welding required. Dimensions are detailed and can easily be adapted to the material available.

I tried to create a trolley, which can replace the car to go to the market / grocery shopping. No need to transport heavy cargo, but big objects (cardboard boxes, crates, wood, etc.) – Therefore it needs to be easily adaptable, with the option to fix a crate on the board. + Priority goes to second-hand materials!

Solar Concentration for Craft Practice

“This research indicates the technical capabilities of using a 40 cm2 Fresnel lens to heat, melt and vitrify a variety of materials and suggests future applications of this technology including the ability to digitise the process. This material processing technique offers an alternative to heat matter and is significant in geographical locations with ample sunlight, offering a cost-effective option to traditional heating methods and allows directional heating, which local craftspeople can exploit to their creative advantage.” [Read more…]